We decided to participate in the NAMI walks 5K this year at the recomendation of one of our bootcampers Jeanette Smith. This was an event close to her heart as a family member had been affected by mental illness. So we made it an important part of ours.
“Thousands of concerned citizens in over 80 communities across the nation walk/run together to raise money and awareness about our country’s need for a world-class treatment and recovery system for people with mental illness.” –NAMIwalks.org
The 5K Walk/Run was hosted this year in lovely Balboa Park. This is an amazing park with so much to see even on a leisurely Sunday stroll. There were several vendor booths from local community programs, a live band and fun stretching activities prior to the race, and good post race snacks available such as bananas, juice and muffins.
Over a thousand people participated in the event this year so the crowds at the start were impressive. Sarah and I decided to run pushing our son in his BOB Running Stroller (a great investment for active parents!) and lined up with the other runners out in front. The course can be a bit confusing as it winds in and out of the main buildings and fountains in the park and actually turns back on itself on at least two occasions.The cheerleaders along the way are very helpful in pointing you in the right direction and have great energy and offer positive encouragement! The course layout wouldn’t be so bad except for trying to run back across the bridge as a thousand walkers make their way across in the opposite direction. The other runners were able to slip through the crowds without too much jostling. Unfortunately running with a baby stroller tends to be a bit more cumbersome as we spent a good bit of time yelling “Stroller coming through!” as members of the walkers cheered us on for giving it our best.
We finished the race in 4th and 5th place with Sarah coming in as the overall female finisher. But placing in this race isn’t important. As we waited at the finish line cheering on our fellow racers it was great to see everyone hung around at the finish, talking with their fellow racers, encouraging and congratulating each other for a race well run/walked. It was a great community atmosphere!
Best Things about NAMI walks 2011:
A great cause, warm and welcoming environment, beautiful race venue, amazing cheerleaders, racers who cheer everyone on, and a non-competitive environment perfect for first time runners!
Things to improve the NAMI walks 2012:
Course layout could be clearer, make a lane on the bridge for runners coming back across, have a clear finish line and a visible clock at the finish.
If you are looking for a great event to get out for a walk with the family, challenge yourself to a 5K without pressure, or just enjoy a great event with super positive and supportive people, this is the run for you!
Dedicated to your success,